Wednesday, October 20, 2021

There’s More to the Story

Virtual Dementia Tour

Imagine the feeling of needles pricking your feet with every step, your hands unable to button your shirt, your eyes so foggy you can barely see in front of you. Seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease and various forms of dementia have to live with many of those symptoms and more each and every day. The Virtual Dementia Tour, also known as the VDT, is offered by Oasis Senior Advisors, a Bonita Springs based franchisor. The tour gives caregivers, health care workers and family members a first-hand glimpse of what a person with the disease experiences.

Tour participants are “garbed up” for the VDT with inserts in their shoes designed to mimic the feeling of neuropathy that often accompanies Alzheimer’s and other age-related conditions. They wear gloves that make it difficult to use their hands, and headphones that exhibit background noise inherent in everyday life.  While all of these distractions take place, VDT participants are asked to perform simple, everyday tasks, like setting a table, walking, picking up objects and counting coins. Participants find these tasks much harder and, in many cases, impossible.

After the tour is over, a short debriefing takes place. During this time, participants of the VDT are asked to explain how they felt. “You often get a spouse or caregiver who is at their wit’s end, and they come out of the tour and say, ‘Oh my gosh! Is that what’s happening to my wife? Is that what’s going on in her world?’” Osterweil said. “The VDT offers a greater respect and understanding of what people are going through.”

To learn how to experience the Virtual Dementia Tour or bring it to your community, call 888-455-5838 or visit

NTRC Launches New Hippotherapy Program

Naples Therapeutic Riding Center (NTRC), a non-profit organization providing therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-facilitated group services for children and adults with special needs and physical challenges, is pleased to announce the launch of a new, evidence-based service called hippotherapy. This new service utilizes the purposeful manipulation of equine movement to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes. Hippotherapy is part of an integrated treatment strategy utilized by occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology professionals.

NTRC recently completed a $4 million capital expansion with the goal of expanding and adding programs, providing instructor and volunteer trainings and conducting research that will further the benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapy. The vision of making hippotherapy available began in January, when NTRC hosted the first-ever, Collier County-based hippotherapy certification course with nationally known hippotherapy clinical specialist and physical therapist Carol Huegel.

For more information on programs or volunteer opportunities, visit or call 239-596-2988.

Free Medicare Counseling Available

Collier County seniors with concerns about Medicare and other health insurance options now have a new opportunity for free insurance counseling in Naples. On July 24, the Area Agency on Aging opened a new SHINE counseling site at the Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities.  At the new location, SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) counselors provide free, unbiased health insurance counseling by appointment every Tuesday through Friday.

The Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities is located at 3174 Tamiami Tr. E. in Naples, near the intersection of Tamiami Tr. and Airport-Pulling Rd.

Offered locally through the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida (AAASWFL), SHINE empowers seniors, their caregivers and family members to make informed decisions about health care coverage.  By offering counseling at partner sites like the Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities, AAASWFL can reach more Medicare beneficiaries in Collier County.

SHINE counselors assist clients with Medicare, Medicaid, prescription assistance, and long-term care planning.  SHINE counselors can help seniors and people with disabilities find programs which may lower their prescription drug costs, provide prescription drugs at no cost, or help with Medicare Part B costs.

In addition to the new Catholic Charities location, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries can receive SHINE counseling services at several other Collier County locations:  The Alzheimer’s Support Network (660 Tamiami Trail N., Naples), Goodlette Arms Apartments (950 Goodlette Rd., Naples) and the NCH Baker Hospital (350 Seventh St. N., Naples).  SHINE Counseling is also available for members only at the Naples Senior Center at JFCS (5025 Castello Dr., Naples).  Days and times at each location vary, and appointments are required.

To make an appointment at any of these sites, or to receive assistance by phone, call the AAASWFL’s toll-free Elder Helpline at 1-866-413-5337. Additional counseling sites can be found on the SHINE website:  SHINE is a volunteer program of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.

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